Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pixies' 'Doolittle' to get deluxe treatment

Having seen the band perform at Coachella 2 Festival last spring, I'm really looking forward to hearing this...

To mark its 25th anniversary, 4AD Records will release Pixies: Doolittle 25, a deluxe, three-disc package that brings together for the first time all of the album's B-sides, Peel Sessions and demos from the time, along with the original album.

Nearly half of the tracks on this album are being commercially released for the first time. Set for a December 2, 2014 North American in-store date, Pixies: Doolittle 25 will be available in CD and all digital formats, as well as a double-vinyl edition that features all of the B-sides, Peel Sessions and demos.

Doolittle, the second studio album from Pixies - Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering - was to prove a pivotal moment for both band and the wider scene. For the few years prior, the band had enjoyed cult status in their homeland with their early records having to find their way to the U.S. on import. In 1989 their British label (4AD) joined forces with American giant Elektra for Doolittle to receive a full domestic release.

Produced by Gil Norton in late 1988, Doolittle was an instant hit containing some of the band's most memorable singles ("Monkey Gone To Heaven," "Here Comes Your Man," "Debaser"). A slow-burn success story followed, helping them to sell in excess of a million copies in the U.S. alone.

The band toured Doolittle in 2009 to celebrate its 20th birthday and five years on from then, it's now time to give it the deluxe release treatment it deserves.

The three-CD Pixies: Doolittle 25 contains 50 tracks with the original album on disc one, two full Peel Sessions and six B-sides on disc two, and the complete album in demo form plus seven bonus tracks on disc three. A gatefold two-LP version is also being released, with two pieces of 180g black vinyl being pressed - the first containing six B-sides and two full Peel Sessions and the second being the album in complete demo form plus three bonus tracks. A download card is included, offering access to all LP tracks plus four more bonus tracks.

Like all other Pixies sleeves before it, Vaughan Oliver returns to oversee its design, reinterpreting his original artwork and Simon Larbalestier's photographs to create a stunning new design using metallic ink.

New round of U.S. tour dates for Sam Smith

Sam Smith will return to the U.S. again for his first arena and theatre tour starting Jan. 9, 2015, and hit venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York City on Jan. 15 and The Forum in Los Angeles on Jan. 30.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning Oct. 24 at 10am EST. American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public now through Oct. 23 at 10 pm EST.

It was only a year ago Smith played his first show in the U.S. – at the Mercury Lounge in New York City.

In that short time, his incredible ascent will see him take the stages of the some of the most prestigious high capacity venues in the country.

“It’s been my dream to play some of these venues,” said Smith. “I’m so appreciative of how American audiences have embraced my music. I’m thrilled to come back to the U.S. again. This is starting to feel like home!”

Smith’s fast-paced trajectory is attributed to his undeniable, and immense talent. His album In The Lonely Hour debuted at No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., and remained in the Top 10 for 13 weeks.

That album claimed the record for the highest first week sales for a UK male artist in the soundscan era and currently has surpassed sales of 2.8 million adjusted units worldwide. Most recently, the album climbed back up to No. 1 in the UK once again, while it has remained in the Top 5 since release, 20 weeks ago. Additionally, In The Lonely Hour reentered the Top 10 in the U.S. this week.

While “Stay With Me” has become a mainstay at mainstream radio, Smith’s current single “I’m Not The Only One” is on the same path. The moving accompanying video features Dianna Agron (Glee) and Chris Messina (The Mindy Show), playing out a heartrending tale of betrayal amongst a married couple, following the songs’ candid lyrical content.

Most recently, Smith was nominated for two American Music Awards in the categories of New Artist of the Year and Favorite Male Artist Pop/Rock.


January 9 Atlanta, Ga. Fox Theatre
January 10 Nashville, Tenn. Grand Ole Opry House
January 12 Fairfax, Va. Patriot Center
January 13 Philadelphia, Pa. The Liacouras Center
January 15 New York, N.Y. Madison Square Garden
January 17 Boston, Mass. Agganis Arena
January 19 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
January 20 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
January 22 Detroit, Mich. Masonic Temple Theatre
January 23 Chicago, Ill. UIC Pavilion
January 24 St. Paul, Minn. Roy Wilkins Auditorium
January 26 Broomfield, Colo. 1st Bank Center
January 30 Los Angeles, Calif. The Forum
January 31 San Francisco, Calif. Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
February 2 Seattle, Wash. Key Arena
February 4 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena

BoDeans singer goes solo

Sam Llanas, formerly of the BoDeans, will release his new album The Whole Night Thru on Nov. 18 via Llanas Music.

The guitar-driven collection was produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin and features nine Llanas originals.

With a career spanning decades, Llanas is continuing his solo pilgrimage after 25 years with the band he co-founded. His 12th studio album and third major solo effort, The Whole Night Thru, blends roots rock styles and more.

Work began in 2013 with Llanas began completing The Whole Night Thru in Milwaukee with producer-musician Tanin, who had also worked on the singer-songwriter’s previous solo efforts, A Good Day To Die, 4 A.M. (The Way Home) and 4/5 Live - Vol. I.

Milwaukee musicians Sean Williamson, Matt Turner and Ryan Schiedermayer contributed guitar, bass, drums & percussion respectively, while Tanin supplied the string arrangements, piano and mellotron on the new recording.

“I’ve always been influenced by what I heard," Llanas revealed. "In the ‘60s, when radio was wide open, you would hear the Beatles and the Stones, Motown Soul and Atlanta Soul, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding and Southern Soul. You’d hear Tom Jones, The Carpenters, Glen Campbell and country artists, you’d hear Johnny Cash and folk. Those songs were all really well-written and well performed.”

Going solo at this point in his career has allowed Llanas to combine the experience of a seasoned professional with the passion of an emerging artist.

As Llanas admits, “I think the best part about being solo has been that I get to express myself completely now. I never got to sing half of these songs, and I always wanted to. I love being able to have that freedom.”


Nov. 7 - WBSD Coffee House - Burlington, WI
Nov. 11 - Turner Hall Ballroom - Milwaukee, WI (w/ Dave Davies)
Nov. 14 - Silver Dome Ballroom - Neillsville, WI
Nov. 15 - Vox Concert Series - Marshfield, WI
Nov. 22 - Wisconsin Conservatory of Music - Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 29 - Aster Café - Minneapolis, MN
Nov. 30 - Aster Café - Minneapolis, MN
Dec. 27 - Shank Hall - Milwaukee, WI (w/ The Delta Routine)

(more dates to be announced soon)

Coldplay's 'Ghost Stories' Live arrives next month

Coldplay have announced the Nov. 24 release of a new concert film and live album, Ghost Stories Live 2014, on DVD/CD, and digital formats.

An exclusive trailer can also be viewed at

Filmed by director Paul Dugdale, the Ghost Stories Live 2014 film documents the band's performance of the Ghost Stories album to a small group of fans in March 2014, two months prior to the album's release. Shot in a custom-built amphitheatre at Sony Studios, Los Angeles, the production sets the band's performance against 360-degree and overhead imagery.

Said Chris Martin: "The 'Ghost Stories' show at Sony Studios was a very special moment for our band. The magic theatre built by our incredible crew with the 360 screens was literally a dream come true. And it was the first time anyone outside of our studio had heard the new songs. This film is basically our original vision for the 'Ghost Stories' album."

Parts of the performance were first broadcast in May 2014 as a Coldplay TV special around the world, including NBC in the US and Sky Arts in the UK (where the film has already been nominated for Best Live Coverage at this year's UK Music Video Awards). But Ghost Stories Live 2014 is the first time that the performance has been sequenced as originally conceived: a visual representation of the Ghost Stories album.

This new release also contains an exclusive Ghost Stories live album, with audio recorded at the band's rapturously-received shows in London, Sydney, Paris, Cologne, New York and Los Angeles between April and July 2014.

The package is completed by eight music videos from the Ghost Stories era, including two never-before-seen films for B-sides All Your Friends and Ghost Story plus the exclusive Extended Director's Cut of the Magic video (with a brand new cameo from Peter Fonda).

Ghost Stories Live 2014 is Coldplay's first DVD release since the Grammy-nominated Live 2012 concert film.

Ghost Stories Live 2014

1. Always In My Head
2. Magic
3. Ink
4. True Love
5. Midnight
6. Another's Arms
7. Oceans
8. A Sky Full Of Stars
9. O

Music videos:

1. Midnight
2. Magic (Extended Director's Cut)
3. A Sky Full Of Stars
4. True Love
5. Ink (Live at the Royal Albert Hall)
6. All Your Friends
7. Ghost Story
8. Always In My Head (Artwork Animation)

Alternate Live Takes:

1. Always In My Head
2. Oceans


1. Always In My Head (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London)
2. Magic (Live at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney)
3. Ink (Live at Le Casino de Paris, Paris)
4. True Love (Live at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney)
5. Midnight (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London)
6. Another's Arms (Live at the Beacon Theatre, New York)
7. Oceans (Live at E-Werk, Cologne)
8. A Sky Full Of Stars (Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London)
9. O (Live at Royce Hall, Los Angeles)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Return of The Church

The Church 25th studio album titled Further/Deeper will be released in North America on Feb. 3, 2015.

Next year also marks the 35th anniversary of the band.

"The magic started on day one," says singer/bass player Steve Kilbey. "Someone strummed a chord or struck a drum or plucked a note and we were off. We wrote and recorded like demons and it was inspiring to feel every member using all his resources in the service of this record."

Ian Haug (Powderfinger) has taken over
guitar duties from Marty Willson-Piper with founding member Peter Koppes. Drummer Tim Powles produced the album with the band. According to Kilbey, Haug has helped the quartet to together discover a new textural dimension and acted as a “blood transfusion that has brought us back to life.”

Twenty-six songs were born over eight days of exploration in Sydney in late 2013. Guitarist Koppes drew palpable inspiration from the quartet's remixed chemistry. "This new incarnation of the band with Ian Haug has brought a joyous energy to the music we've written together," he says. "The rhythm swings more than usual yet the moods still range from melancholy pop to our modern version of heavy psychedelic rock, as in ‘Laurel Canyon’, to the epic gothic-progressive dance track, ‘Globe Spinning’."

From the ominous allure of the lead track, “Vanishing Man,” to the beguiling tippy toes of “Pride Before A Fall;” the chiming keys of “Love Philtre” to the sheer hammer horror “Toy Head;” the exhilarating breeze of “Old Coast Road” and the ultimate, panoramic drama of the mini-screenplay that is “Miami,” Further/Deeper, delivers on the promise of its title in a combined blossoming of melody, rhythm and audacity.

For Haug, transitioning from the multi-platinum ashes of his previous band Powderfinger to join "one of my favorite bands of all time" was an utterly surreal experience, audibly expressed in fantastic new dimensions of the church's fabled ‘guitarchitecture’."

"The first song we wrote was ‘Miami,’ and from there we splintered off into several styles of surreal to intense psychedelia — and songs to make you drive fast," he says. "It was a trip. And an incredible honor to be accepted so readily into a songwriting as well as guitar-playing role."

Drummer Powles was again instrumental in the painstaking alchemy that boiled the explosion of ideas down to 12 potent pieces in the early months of 2014, a process that often saw members working simultaneously in separate studios across multiple instruments to produce a work of singular cohesion.

"After an eternal twenty years in The Church I marvel more than ever at how we've become masters of our own freedom," he says. "No strings attached, no view to winning a prize. How lucky are we? Or have we earned it? We've got better at it too. Or maybe it's got the better of us. It seems to devour us. Like magic."

The first taste of Further/Deeper comes in the form of the track “Pride Before A Fall.” The ballad introduces us to the next step in the church's sound, and while embracing the signature psych leanings fans have come to know and love, 'Pride Before A Fall' is proof that the band are making music that is both futuristic and relevant.

A North American tour is in the works with details to be announced shortly.

Track Listing:

Vanishing Man
Pride Before A Fall
Toy Head
Laurel Canyon
Love Philtre
Globe Spinning
Old Coast Road
Lightning White
Let Us Go

The Bangles rarities coming

Having interviewed and reviewed The Bangles members over the past couple years, I'm really looking forward to hearing this. Really wish there was a physical release though...

The Bangles have announced the release of Ladies and Gentlemen…The Bangles!, on their own label, DownKiddie! Records, available for digital download at all major music outlets starting Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving Day).

Hand-selected by the band members from their personal music archives,
Ladies and Gentlemen…The Bangles! is a 16-track collection of re-mastered 80's-era rarities, demos, live recordings and more, including the Bangles’ debut single and all of the tracks from their self-titled EP - produced Craig Leon – unavailable since its initial release on vinyl in 1982.

Encompassing the very first years of the band’s development, from their earliest days as the “Bangs” to their incarnation as the Bangles, the tracks include performances by the Bangles’ founding and current members - Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, and Vicki Peterson - as well as now-retired bassist Michael Steele, and the band’s original bass player Annette Zilinskas.

"We’re so pleased to give our fans and music lovers alike the chance to enjoy the early fruits of our labor. Some of these tracks have never seen the light of day,” states Bangles drummer/singer Debbi Peterson.

"We've wanted to make these songs available to a new audience for a long time,” adds singer/guitarist Vicki Peterson. “We’ve thrown in a couple of live tracks, and even some of the first demos, all lovingly collected and re-mastered, so you no longer have to dig out a cassette player to hear them.”

Singer/guitarist Susanna Hoffs continues, “I feel a very special connection to our early recordings. The garage of my parents' house was our musical laboratory, and we took all the flavors of our favorite bands and mixed up a concoction of jangly guitars, McCartney-inspired bass parts, grooves powered by punk energy, and harmonies galore! These songs and recordings were our musical manifesto - all that mattered and inspired us, fueled by youthful energy, hope and blind ambition.”

The Bangles are:

Susanna Hoffs – guitar/vocals
Debbi Peterson – drums/guitar/vocals
Vicki Peterson – guitar/vocals

Track Listing

1. Bitchen Summer/Speedway (The Bangles/Rodney On The Roq: Volume 3, 1982 - S. Hoffs/D. Roback)
2. Getting Out of Hand (The Bangs/debut single A-side, 1981 - V. Peterson)
3. Call on Me (The Bangs/debut single B-side, 1981 - S. Hoffs/V. Peterson/ D. Roback)
4. The Real World (The Bangles EP, 1982 - S. Hoffs/V. Peterson)
5. I’m in Line (The Bangles EP, 1982 - D. Peterson/V. Peterson/S. Hoffs)
6. Want You (The Bangles EP, 1982 - V. Peterson)
7. Mary Street (The Bangles EP, 1982 - S. Hoffs/V. Peterson)
8. How is the Air Up There? (The Bangles EP, 1982 - S. Duboff/A. Kornfeld)
9. Outside Chance (unreleased demo, 1981 - W. Zevon)
10. Steppin’ Out (unreleased demo, 1981 - M. Lindsay/Paul Revere & The Raiders)
11. The Real World (unreleased demo, 1981 - S. Hoffs/V. Peterson)
12. Call on Me (unreleased demo, 1981 - S. Hoffs/V. Peterson/D. Roback)
13. Tell Me (live performance, Dingwalls London, 1984 - S. Hoffs/V. Peterson)
14. 7 & 7 Is (live performance, The Palace, Hollywood, 1984 - A. Lee)
15. No Mag Commercial (The Bangles, 1982)
16. The Rock & Roll Alternative Program theme song (The Bangles, 1982)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness concert review: Los Angeles

My review originally appeared at 

When musicians perform songs from their former bands live, the results can come across awkwardly if not done carefully.

Yet on Wednesday night at the Fonda Theatre, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness handled their leader’s new and old material seamlessly.  

“It’s crazy weaving all these threads of my life together,” said the singer/pianist, onstage in Hollywood.

He first gained attention during the early 2000s as the teenage front man for popular Dana Point alt-rock band Something Corporate. A little over a decade later came the acclaimed, adult alternative pop-leaning Jack’s Mannequin, which ended two years ago.

McMahon’s latest music endeavor involved various career changes, so “in the wilderness” was added to the new moniker. He penned the songs in a Topanga Canyon shack. They were fleshed out in the Echo Park studio of co-producer/collaborator Mike Viola (who worked on the latest releases by Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis and Matt Nathanson).

Besides a heightened emphasis on atmospheric keyboards, piano and electronic programming (think: The Postal Service and Keane), McMahon’s trademark pop melodies are peppered throughout the excellent self-titled debut album, which arrived this week.

Expansive first single “Cecilia and the Satellite” (inspired by the birth of McMahon’s infant daughter) is currently receiving airplay on KROQ FM. The autobiographical lyric finds McMahon singing how he’s “been around the world with a punk rock band/I’ve seen London and I’ve played Japan.”

Inside the lobby before the Hollywood show, an organization signed up potential bone marrow donors – something of vital importance to McMahon since a transplant helped save his life while battling leukemia. 

Having spent much of the summer opening for Vanguard Records label mate Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw, the band just started a headlining U.S. tour. It winds up Thanksgiving weekend back home here in OC, where McMahon resides with his family again after an extended period living in LA.

A large group of enthusiastic young fans packed the area in front of the Fonda stage and often sang along loudly to the older tunes. Further back, other concertgoers were annoyingly chatty – even during the quiet numbers (something you’d expect at House of Blues).

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – comprised of former Jack’s Mannequin drummer Jay McMillan and bassist Mikey Wagner (pictured left), plus keyboardist Zac Clark - kicked off their enticing 90-minute set with a strident “Canyon Moon.”

Featuring a soulful chorus live, the first of eight selections performed from the new album was co-written by pop/rock hit maker Sam Hollander and Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin and revolves around a girl trying to escape LA.

The frantic Jack’s Mannequin song “Dark Blue” was slightly revamped with a piercing synth line, while Something Corporate rarity “Watch the Sky” was a pleasant surprise. Before noting, “this was written right around the corner in Echo Park,” McMahon flubbed the lyrics to airy new one, “High Dive” and joked about it.

Gregarious as always and never still at the piano (he briefly jumped into the crowd amid “All Our Lives”), the singer explained the background to several songs. Among the past catalog, “The Resolution” was an early standout. Mannequin selections like “Bruised” and “Crashin’” worked well with tweaked arrangements. SoCo’s “Ruthless” benefitted from McMahon’s more mature sonorous vocals. 

Alone at the piano, his versions of “Holiday From Real” had added gravitas, “Rainy Girl” was quietly effective and the dramatic “Cavanaugh Park” (where the band joined in) was simply stunning.   

Later, “I Woke Up in a Car” sounded quite different minus the original electric guitar, but the synth and brief acapella bit cast it in a fresh new light. McMahon worked both sides of the stage for “Synesthesia.” 

For the encores, the new “Maps for the Getaway” contained a compelling Peter Gabriel vibe, the poppy “La La Lie” saw McMahon impressively handle harmonica and piano (!), and “Cecilia and the Satellite” ended the evening on a kaleidoscopic high. 

Setlist: Canyon Moon/Dark Blue/Watch the Sky/High Dive/Amy, I/The Resolution/Driving Through a Dream/Bruised/Crashin’/Ruthless/All Our Lives/Holiday From Real/Rainy Girl/Cavanaugh Park/Halls/I Woke Up in a Car/Synesthesia

Encore: Maps for the Getaway/La La Lie/Cecilia and the Satellite

All photos by Armando Brown
The band does a hometown show on Nov. 29 at the Observatory in Santa Ana. Tickets are $30. For more information:,